TAMPA, Fla. - It's coming a week earlier than last year - and probably a week sooner than both would have liked - but Bob Huggins and John Calipari are meeting again.
West Virginia's 84-76 win over Clemson and Kentucky's 59-57 nail-biter over Princeton Thursday put the No. 22 and fifth-seeded Mountaineers into a 12:15 p.m. Saturday NCAA tournament game against No. 11 and fourth-seeded Kentucky at the St. Pete Times Forum.
After West Virginia's win over Clemson Thursday, Huggins recounted his Sunday-night text exchange with Calipari when the latter told him the two would be in the same region and meet. That was just before the brackets were announced.
"Either Cal has got somebody on the inside or he's clairvoyant,'' Huggins said. "I'm not sure which.''
A year ago, Huggins' Mountaineers beat Calipari's Wildcats 73-66 at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y. That was for the right to go to the Final Four in Indianapolis.
This one will be for the chance to move on to the East Regional in Newark, N.J., probably to face overall No. 1 Ohio State next Friday unless the Buckeyes don't make it.
Freshman Brandon Knight's driving layup with two seconds to play gave Kentucky its win over Princeton. Darius Miller scored 17 points and Josh Harrellson had 15 points and 10 rebounds to overcome generally sub-par efforts by Kentucky's freshmen, who are the core of the team.
Miller, a 6-7 junior who started last year's Elite Eight game against the Mountaineers, thinks he knows what to expect on Saturday.
"We know they're going to be a very tough team, very physical team, and we're going to have to be ready to go,'' Miller said. "We haven't, well, I personally haven't seen a lot of them this year, haven't seen a lot of video on them, so I don't know what all to expect. But I know they're going to have talented players, and like I said, they're going to be tough.''